In order to set long term goals effectively you need to have a process you follow religiously. I mapped out how to start with that in my previous article (My Goal Planning Analyzed Step-by-Step). To set long term goals means to be forced to plan for the future. Planning is the key to all success when trying to transform your body.
Use the SMART System for Setting Goals
The SMART System is a method to set long term goals that has been proven through its use by many different people. SMART, itself, is an acronym that stands for Specific Measureable Assignable Realistic Time-related. In short, you target an area for improvement, quantify a measure to show improvement, specify who will attain the goal, determine what is realistic and then specify when it is to be completed. This approach will set your brain to work at accomplishing the goals you have set.
Set Long Term Goals That Are Realistic
When you set long term goals they need to be realistic. I could say I am going to lose 100 pounds in 2 weeks, but that just isn't realistic. It is OK to say you want to lose 100 pounds, but the realistic part is in the time it will take. You have to work your way towards the goal at a pace that is really going to happen or you will simply be at a loss when you fail to achieve the goal. It is extremely discouraging when you fail at a goal.
Flexibility Is the Key
When you set long term goals you have to be flexible. As stated above, being realistic about when you can accomplish the goal. I had a woman call me for personal training services recently. She weight 240 lbs. and wanted to weigh 140 lbs. A 100 pound drop in weight is a huge thing to undertake, but it can be done. By my calculations it would take her 15 months to accomplish this goal. She didn't like my estimate because she wanted to do it in 3 months. The amazing thing is her unwillingness to bend on that goal date. She even commented that she had been losing 1 pound a week on her new “diet” and just knew that adding exercise would get her to her goal. I reminded her that to lose 100 pounds in 3 months meant losing 8.333 pounds a week. I tried to explain why this was not a realistic goal and what the consequences would be of setting such a goal. She kept telling me that I didn't understand. Needless to say I am not working with that person. People, be flexible with the goal date. The idea is to lose the weight, right? So who cares if it takes a little longer than you'd like? The end result is the same.
Measure What You Expect to Accomplish
To me a goal of losing 100 pounds isn't even the thing I would look at. I would rather drop body fat percentage and circumference measurements before I would even look at the scale. Taking the woman I mentioned above, had I worked with her I would not have even asked about her scale weight. I would have measured body fat and circumference of body parts weekly. Based on the feedback those numbers gave me I would make adjustments. In the end we would be powering towards her goal of 100 pounds lighter and she would have been much happier. Unfortunately at this point I believe her goal date will come and go and she won't have lost anywhere near what she wants.
Set Long Term Goals For Yourself
Long term goals are something you will be working on for quite some time. As in the example above, it would take 15 months to accomplish what she wanted so how much do you think she would accomplish if she were setting the goal for her husband, mother, children or other person? I submit to you that she would fail miserably if the goal wasn't set for her and her alone. Goals, especially long term goals, are for us. They have to be something we are willing to live with. We will be working towards these goals for a good amount of time.
Set Long Term Goals You Can Be Held Accountable To
Make sure that your goals are something you can share with someone close to you. Ask them to hold you accountable. Start an accountability blog if you think it will help. Publish pictures to social media. Whatever it takes to keep yourself focused on the goal, do it!
I encourage you to let me know what your goals are. I am amazing at keeping people accountable. I can't make you do what you don't want to do, but I can certainly check in on you all the time. Tweet me (@mikemahony) or leave a comment below and I will be your accountability partner.